Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Regenerative Medicine & Health IT Systems

Over the past decade I've written numerous articles about many of the health information technologies (IT) and systems needed to support traditional medicine and preventative medicine practices, e.g. EHR, PHR, and HIE systems. With the emergence of the relatively new field of regenerative medicine, what type of health IT systems are going to be needed?

The growing field of regenerative medicine already encompasses so many fields from stem cell research, genetics, tissue engineering, bioengineering, organic human nanostructures, limb reconstruction, transplantation, and life extension research. This doesn't include the supporting fields of computer science, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, robotics, 3D imaging, and more. Regenerative medicine requires extensive collaboration between scientists working in all these various areas.

Regenerative Medicine Defined

Regenerative medicine is the process of creating living, functional tissues to repair or replace tissue or organ function lost due to aging, damage, or congenital defects. This field holds the promise of regenerating damaged tissues and organs in the body by stimulating previously irreparable organs to heal themselves. Regenerative medicine also empowers scientists to grow tissues and organs in the laboratory and safely implant them when the body cannot heal itself.  This has the potential to solve the growing problem of shortages in organ donations. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regenerative_medicine


To get a better feel for this field, take a look at the following Centers for Regenerative Mdicine established by U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and several of affiliated academic institutions.


Existing electronic health record (EHR) and related ancillary health IT systems will need to be modified and enhanced to collect, process, and display information and interface them to stem cell information, genomic information, wearable systems, implantable systems, biological modeling software, immersive virtual reality systems, and more. Building the tools needed to support the field of regenerative medicine will be a significant undertaking. Rather than having numerous organizations each going off in their own direction in developing what is needed, now is the time to get them collaborating on the innovative, 'open' regenerative health IT solutions of the future.

Have you gotten involved with developing IT systems in support of regenerative medicine? Is the development of these tools part of a collaborative, open source software development community project? Tell us about it. 

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